Banchory-based renewable energy experts to lead EU-funded North Sea carbon-capture pilot programme

An international low-carbon consortium led by a Scottish renewable energy consultancy has won funding to develop a full-chain small-scale carbon capture and storage project at the St. Fergus pipeline terminal in Grampian.

The Acorn Project has been approved for funding under the Advancing CCS Technologies programme to progress feasibility studies between 2017-2018.

Banchory-based Pale Blue Dot Energy is leading the ACT study consortium which also includes Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage, Bellona (Norway), Liverpool University and Radboud University in the Netherlands.

The Acorn project provides a low-cost entry point for carbon capture and storage in the UK, by enabling a small-scale project, from which an extensive CCS network could be developed.

The project will capture industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the St Fergus gas processing plant and transport it for permanent storage deep beneath the North Sea, using existing redundant oil and gas infrastructure which is currently under threat of decommissioning.

St Fergus will be a future hub for CCS, its multiple pipelines taking CO2 by pipeline from Central Scotland and CO2 shipping import via Peterhead Harbour to North Sea storage sites.

Alan James, Managing Director of Pale Blue Dot Energy, said “This is a significant endorsement for this innovative project, the benefits of which have been seen by the nine EU member states involved in the evaluation.”

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said: “Funding for the Acorn CCS project is an important first step towards decarbonising industry in Scotland as part of the UK’s overall efforts.

“Several years of work, by SCCS, Pale Blue Dot Energy and others, have confirmed the benefits of re-using legacy engineering equipment, pipelines and well-understood geological storage. This has already been evaluated with £100 million of public funding.

“In all of Europe, north-east Scotland is the location where CCS can be built most rapidly, with low-cost CO2 transport and very secure storage sites. Acorn also lights a path to sustainable offshore engineering and employment for many decades into the future.

“Becoming a careful early mover in this new industry can help us win a place in the business of CO2 storage for the UK and mainland Europe.”

MSP Alexander Burnett, the Scottish Conservative energy spokesman, commented; “This is great news for  Pale Blue Dot Energy – a company based in Banchory in my constituency of Aberdeenshire West – and its Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project.

“While this is a small-scale project, CCS has significant potential and will be an important part of the energy mix in future years. There is also the potential to create new jobs, as well as re-utilising existing and ageing oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea.”

Meanwhile, the controlled production of brine from rocks deep beneath the North Sea can greatly increase the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be injected for storage and help to reduce the cost per tonne of tackling the UK’s carbon emissions, according to new research.

The project team – led by Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) partner Heriot-Watt University – showed how brine production, more often associated with oil and gas operations, can enhance the storage potential of saline aquifers already identified as ideal CO2 stores. 

The UK has some of the world’s best geological CO2 storage, up to 2.5km below the North Sea, which can be utilised in carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects to help the UK meet legally binding carbon targets. These storage sites have already been identified by CO2Stored – the UK’s offshore storage map.


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